There are bluebells. There is plump wild garlic and exquisite spring lamb at the Wheatsheaf. On one of the surrounding tables in the cool modern dining room, four lads who might, ten years ago, have been downing lagers with an over-sized curry, are talking about beetroot over delicate English salad leaves. On another, three women are sharing a bottle of white wine and discussing birdsong. On the third (for there are only four) a couple are too blissfully happy or pissed, or both, to do anything but hold hands while they digest the fine fayre. As usual, we move from analyzing our food and the ambiance (pretty much ten out of ten, we agree for once, apart from the square plates) to dreaming of our own coffee shop cum gallerybistro/ gastro pub with rooms. There is a Farrow and Ball bedroom in 'The Shed' with a cowbell key, Egyptian cotton sheetage, complimentary organic Fairtrade tea, a tuckbox and a lambskin cushion that is almost as good as having our beloved Manon in bed with us.... but Julian is nervous. Tomorrow is press day!
Thankfully Butler, Tanner and Dennis start late due to a system something or other, so we can enjoy an early morning walk and salmon and scrambled duck eggs. We check emails outside the inn in a light rain. We have breakfast and drive to Frome through dingly dells that make us discuss the possibility of moving back to our home country. There is a nice bookshop in which we are assured that the printers we have chosen are sound fellows....
And then, suddenly, there we are at the first pass. Julian's paintings sliding out all clean and shiny and multiduninous on huge sheets. All on their own. All grown-up.
It occurs to me that up until now Julian has, possibly for the first time, been feeling what we musicians feel before we go on stage. He tilts his head. Examines two rougets, a leek and a lavender field.
'Looks great' he says at last, happy as a spring lamb.